HOT SPRINGS -- A Hot Springs woman was convicted Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison on manslaughter and robbery charges for her role in a 2017 shooting death outside a movie theater.
Mochariee Kewanna West, 23, was found guilty after a two-day jury trial in Garland County Circuit Court.
She was arrested Feb. 7, 2017, in connection with the Jan. 25, 2017, death of Quadryon Gipson, 20, of Hot Springs, and later released on $25,000 bond on April 7, 2017.
The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated for just less than two hours before finding West guilty and took about 25 minutes before recommending the sentences on the two charges.
West was originally charged with aggravated robbery, punishable by up to life in prison, but the charge was amended Aug. 7, 2018, to robbery, punishable by up to 30 years.
Prosecutors believe the incident was a drug deal where West, Gipson and another accomplice, Malik Deon Blevins, 22, of Mountain Pine, had planned to rob another man, Dylan Wayne Carpenter, 22, but the plan went awry when Carpenter shot Blevins and Gipson, killing the latter.
Deputy prosecutor Kara Petro said Thursday that the charge was amended to robbery after testimony at previous trials for Carpenter revealed that a BB gun that was brought to threaten Carpenter with was not used in the robbery.
"The gun was found in the parking lot, but there was testimony it fell out of the car or was dropped afterward," Petro said. "They had apparently planned to use it at first but then decided to just grab him and rob him."
She said Carpenter also had testified previously that he didn't see a gun during the robbery.
Petro said Gipson and Blevins had messaged Carpenter leading up to the meeting at Behind the Mall Cinema, pretending to be a woman, and recruited West to help them when Carpenter wanted to talk to the woman on the phone at one point.
"They used her as bait to make the deal," Petro said.
She noted that West also drove them to the scene and was aware they planned to rob Carpenter because they had joked about it in text messages leading up to the meeting.
Blevins pleaded guilty May 8, 2018, to robbery and to manslaughter in Gipson's death.
A circuit court jury convicted Carpenter of committing a terroristic act and first-degree battery Dec. 5, 2018.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a charge of second-degree murder in Gipson's death. Carpenter was previously tried on the same charges in June 2018, which ended in a mistrial.
Petro said Friday that Carpenter is set to stand trial July 24 on the remaining murder charge.
According to the probable-cause affidavit for West, Hot Springs police responded shortly after 9 p.m. Jan. 15, 2017, to the theater's parking lot, located at 4501 Central Ave., to a report of shots fired. They learned upon arrival there was one gunshot victim, later identified as Gipson, who had been taken by private vehicle to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs.
Gipson died from his injuries at the hospital, the affidavit said. Officers made contact with West and Blevins, who admitted they were with Gipson in the parking lot when the shooting occurred, according to the affidavit. West admitted to driving both men to the hospital afterward in her black Ford Explorer.
Witnesses had reported seeing a white male, later identified as Carpenter, run away from a black Ford Explorer after the shots were fired, get into a silver Ford Mustang and flee the scene. Witnesses were able to get the license plate number of the Mustang, which returned to Carpenter. A BB gun was located in the parking lot next to two shell casings.
Blevins later stated he and Gipson went to the theater with West to purchase narcotics from Carpenter. When asked why Gipson was carrying a BB gun, Blevins said Gipson had planned to rob Carpenter.
Search warrants were obtained for cellphones belonging to Blevins and Gipson, and text messages between them and West were located on each phone that spoke about the plan to meet with Carpenter, the affidavit said.
Carpenter surrendered on Jan. 24, 2017, shortly after warrants were issued. He reportedly told police he met Gipson and Blevins in the parking lot that night. After parking his car, he said he walked over to a black Ford Explorer where Blevins was sitting in the back seat.
He was talking with the two men when an altercation occurred, and he shot Gipson and then fired a shot into the vehicle, hitting Blevins, according to the affidavit. Then he fled the scene, according to the affidavit for Carpenter.
State Desk on 04/08/2019
Print Headline: Woman gets 5 years for role in killing near Arkansas movie theater